Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fights: Arlovsky - Browne

By far the best part of my trip to Vegas was watching UFC 187 live at the MGM Grand.

It was also my first time watching fights in person so I didn't really know what to expect.

I knew I wouldn't get to listen to the commentary. I knew I wouldn't get multiple camera angles.

What I didn't know is that none of that matters when you've got one of the best cards in recent memory taking place right in front of you.

UFC 187 didn't get off to a great start. The prelims were pretty boring, and that's putting it lightly.

Even the first fight of the main card was meh. That being said, it was a lot better than any fight on the prelims so it got my blood pumping.

But then, after the first fight, something magical happened.

Shit got real.

Andrei "the Pitbull" Arlovski, once my favourite fighter in the UFC, rekindled my love for prizefighting.

I admit I was skeptical about Arlovski's return to the UFC. I used to love this guy but then something happened. He started getting KO'd, got a little gun-shy, then made his way through a series of inferior organizations with mixed results.

I'd seen this downward slide enough to know what was happening to him. Once you get put to sleep a few times, you start to lose your ability to take a punch. Pretty soon a hard sneeze is enough to earn you a standing 8 count

While outside of the UFC Arlovski won some and lost some. Clearly he won enough to get himself back to the big league. He even strung together three wins in the UFC, knocking out Bigfoot Silva in the process.

Yet despite his win-streak, I still doubted him. I thought for sure Browne would crack that weak chin of his and put him away. Boy did I get it wrong.

Sweet baby Jesus. Did you watch that? Wow.

If I had watched the fight at home I would've been standing on the couch yelling my face off. How much better was it live? Just imagine 16,000 people roaring in amazement and clapping until their hands went numb.

It was fucking unreal.

Here's what I really liked about Arlovski's performance:
  • He let his hands go. I feel like he became gun-shy for a while there. Well not anymore! He threw some really beautiful combinations, and lots of 'em. 
  • He worked the body diligently. Anyone who knows me knows I fucking love body shots. They're extremely under-utilized in MMA and it makes me sad. After he got hurt, Browne did a good job protecting his head. So Arlovski went downstairs and made him pay. Those were some nasty shots to the ribs!
  • You see when Arlovsky threw a punch that missed and hit him on the way back? What the hell was that? He did it twice and even knocked Browne down with it at one point. 
  • He threw unorthodox combos. At least, unorthodox in MMA. For instance, the combo he used to put Browne away--a right uppercut followed by an overhand right--is extremely uncommon in MMA and hard to land successfully. Anytime you see a fighter double up with the same hand, you know he/she is a skilled boxer.
  • He got his chin back!!! At one point Browne, who's game as fuck and deserves mad props for lasting as long as he did, caught Arlovski with a massive left hook that sent him spinning to the ground. I thought for sure that was it, game over, but I was wrong again. Arlovski came back and finished Browne shortly after.
Is Arlovski back? I don't know, man. I hope so. It's rare to see an aging prizefighter mount a successful comeback. For every Couture, Hopkins, and Lawler there's a dozen Tysons, Alis, and Liddells.

There's nothing worse than watching you favourite fighter get demolished time after time because he doesn't know when to call it quits.

On the flip-side, there's nothing better than watching an old favourite mount a spectacular comeback.

Arlovski says he's hungry. He says he wants the belt.

And after last Saturday I believe him.

Of the three predictions I made regarding UFC 187, this fight is the only one I got wrong. And I'm glad!

If you get a chance to watch this one in its entirety, do so. 

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